Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - In A Galaxy Forty Years Ago This Week

This coming Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of "Star Wars."  And I remember exactly what I was doing on that day.

Seeing "Star Wars."

That would be me, perhaps one of the most blase movie fans in history.   A person who now will wait a few weeks to see a new blockbuster so the crowds can die down.   I'm also somebody who has never been much of a science fiction fan.  Yet, somehow inexplicably, I spent parts of May 25, 1977 on three different ticket lines at three different theaters trying to see this film on its opening day.

Indeed, if there was advance buzz about this movie, it had completely passed me by.  But, it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and, like most young folks, had nothing to do.  I got a call from a friend.

"We have to go see Star Wars today."

Huh?  What?  I had no clue.   But I trusted him.   I then fell into the phone chain.  I called another pal of mine.

You need to come see "Star Wars" with us.

"Huh?  What?"

I got sucked into the frenzy that easy.   Before long, four of us were mapping out where it was playing and at what times.  

An afternoon showing downtown in Manhattan at one of the then-fancy theaters now torn down.   This involved a subway ride for us.

The line at the East Side theater was around the block when we got there.  Sold out.

Back on the train up north to a similar venue in the Bronx.  The line may have been intermixing with the one waiting for welfare checks on the Grand Concourse.  Nevertheless...sold out.

We were, for some reason unknown to any of us, crushed.  And now fiercely determined to somehow and some way see this movie which we knew little about.

I forget the machinations that propelled us back to where we started, but someday had a car that took us up to my once-beloved Central Plaza Cinema in Yonkers.   The place is now sadly a Party City.
The glory of this then-brand-spanking-new movie palace was that there were, at the time, two screens with a balcony in both.  Both were very smartly showing "Star Wars."

Cinema 1?  Sold out.

Cinema 2 was wall-to-wall people.   I have never seen so many folks crammed into one place.   Fire Department regulations were definitely taxed.   So, after the legendary opening crawl, the movie begins and Princess Leia is accessing data into or out of R2D2.   I turned to my friend and asked if we had come in during the middle of the movie.  Had we missed the very first "Star Wars?"  I was so confused.

But in a good way.   The franchise, in my humble opinion, has had its ups and downs.   And I wouldn't call myself a fan who would go chase down Mark Hamill at a comic book convention.   But the ultimate exhilaration of that very first day when we spent most of our time just trying to get into a theater was so memorable.   

Of course, there was always the damper at home.   Dad.

"Where the hell were you all day?"

I explained.

"Huh?  What???"

Dinner last night:  BLT sandwich at Cafe 50s.

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